Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sharia Versus Freedom


Scholar Andrew Bostom unveils the legacy of Islamic totalitarianism.


Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Andrew G. Bostom, the editor of the highly acclaimed The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims and of The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History. He has published articles and commentary on Islam in the Washington TimesNational Review OnlineThe New York Post, The New York Daily News, Frontpagemag.comAmerican ThinkerPajamas MediaThe Daily CallerHuman Events, and other print and online publications. He is the author of the new book, Sharia versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic TotalitarianismVisit his blog at


FP: As regular contributor David Solway observes in his endorsement of your book, “…some heretofore immaculate scholarly figures come in for their lumps.” One of those critiqued is the neoconservatives’ ultimate sage of Islam, Bernard Lewis. What are your specific criticisms of Professor Lewis, and how do they relate to the book’s thematic presentation? 
Bostom: Now 96 years old and still active, multiple deserving tributes to Bernard Lewis’ career as a scholar, and public intellectual, were written in celebration of this remarkable nonagenarian (see here  and here, for examples), coinciding in 2006, with his 90th birthday. I began expressing my concerns with Lewis’ scholarship in alengthy review-essay (for Frontpage) on Bat Ye’or’s seminal book Eurabia—The Euro-Arab Axis,  published December 31, 2004. Over the intervening years—in the wake of profound US policy failures vis a vis Islamdom at that time, and subsequently, till now—this disquietude has increased considerably. As I demonstrate in Sharia Versus Freedom, Lewis’s legacy of intellectual and moral confusion has greatly hindered the ability of sincere American policymakers to think clearly about Islam’s living imperial legacy, driven by unreformed and unrepentant mainstream Islamic doctrine. Ongoing highly selective and celebratory presentations of Lewis’s under­standings—(see this for example) —are pathognomonic of the dangerous influence Lewis continues to wield over his uncritical acolytes and supporters. 
In Sharia Versus Freedom, I review Lewis’s troubling intellectual legacy regarding four critical subject areas: the institution of jihad, the chronic impact of the Sharia on non-Muslims vanquished by jihad, sacralized Islamic Jew-hatred, and perhaps most importantly, his inexplicable 180-degree reversal on the notion of “Islamic democracy.” Lewis’ rather bowdlerized analyses are compared to the actual doctrinal formulations of Muslim legists, triumphal Muslim chroniclers celebrating the implementation of these doctrines,  and independent Western assessments by Islamologists (several of whom worked with Lewis, directly, as academic colleagues) which refute his sanitized claims. 
Thus when discussing key doctrinal aspects of jihad, for example, the concepts ofharbi, from Dar al Harb (“domain of war”,  i.e., lands not yet conquered and Islamized by the Muslims), or jihad martyrdom, Lewis’s analyses are incomplete or frankly apologetic. Lewis ignores the fact that unvanquished non-combatant “harbis” from outside the “domain of Islam” were chronically subjected to merciless and murderous rampages in full accord with the classical doctrine of jihad—a doctrine major, widely popular contemporary Muslim legists, including Muslim Brotherhood “Spiritual Guide” Yusuf al-Qaradawi, still expound to this day. Lewis also (rather disingenuously) conflates jihad homicide martyrdom operations—sanctioned and celebrated by the Sharia as the noblest path to eternal Islamic paradise—with Islam’s prohibition against suicide for depressive melancholia. Not surprisingly then, unlike scholars who specialized in the history of the jihad conquests across Asia, Africa, and Europe—such as Moshe Gil, Speros Vryonis, Dimitar Angelov, Charles Emmanuel Dufourcq, and K. S. Lal—Lewis’s rather superficial surveys avoid any details of the devastation these brutal campaigns wrought. As copiously documented by both proud Muslim historians and the laments of non-Muslim chroniclers representing the victims’ perspective, jihad depredations resulted in vast numbers of infidels mercilessly slaughtered—including noncombatant women and children—or enslaved, and deported; countless cities, villages, and infidel religious and cultural sites sacked and pillaged, often accompanied by the burning of harvest crops and massive uprooting of agricultural production systems, causing famine; and enormous quantities of treasure and movable goods seized as “booty.” 
The late Orientalist Maxime Rodinson (d. 2004), a contemporary of Bernard Lewis,warned forty years ago of misguided modern scholarship effectively “sanctifying” Islam: 
Understanding has given away to apologetics pure and simple.
Kindly click here for the entire interview.